Milk teeth

December 2, 2010

The day after Thanksgiving, Dot put a plastic toy in her mouth and I heard a soft but distinctive click. She has a tooth. I have named it Bitey and am hoping that the name turns out to be an antonym for what is really a very gentle and mild little milk tooth.

She is now ten months old and we’d become big fans of baby orajel two days before, so the appearance of a tooth or two shouldn’t be that surprising.  She is growing up.  She is getting teeth.  This is what babies are supposed to do.

This is what babies are supposed to do, but my first didn’t do these things.  He’ll never grow up.  He’ll never cut his teeth on plastic toys and messy (but apparently delicious) teething biscuits.  So it still comes as a shock sometimes, the inescapable fact that my daughter is beginning to move from infancy to toddlerhood.  I want to tell her to slow down.  I want to tell time to slow down.  I want to tell her, “Grow, grow!”  I want to see who she becomes, this funny, busy, shrieking pterodactyl baby of mine.

This week I started the process of weaning.  It’s going to be a long process, partly because I’m emotionally attached to nursing her and partly because she turns her little nose up at formula.  Right now the care center is starting to mixing some formula in with her breast milk.  In a few weeks I plan on cutting out one of my two daily pumping sessions, which I’m looking forward to in spite of the fact that I know it’s the beginning of the end.  Because, seriously? I think my breast pump is named Gertrude.  I see her as a strict disciplinarian of the German school who would whack my knuckles with a ruler if she could.  “You must pump!” Whack! “Pump or your baby will starve!” Whack! “Why aren’t you pumping more milk?” Whack!  Whack!  Whack!

I realize, of course I do, that I’m projecting a lot of my own feelings about pumping onto poor Gertrude who has, after all, been a great help to me and to Dot.  The pressure to hook myself up twice a day, the guilt if I miss a session, the worry if I don’t produce enough ounces, the inconvenience of having to schedule my workday around events my coworkers would really rather not know about – these things have probably changed my relationship with breastfeeding for the worse.  I’m grateful I can do it, that I have the means and opportunity and skilz (I think pumping while answering email or ordering books constitutes skilz).  I know lots of moms who’d like to nurse their babies can’t.  I know what it’s like to have milk and no baby to nurse.

So I’m desperately grateful that I have someone to do it for, that my daughter is here and beautifully alive and vigorous and hungry.  But that gratitude feels like a burden sometimes.  How dare I stop?  No, seriously.  That’s an honest question.  How dare I?

I dare because it feels like it’s time.  I dare because my baby is now sprouting teeth and thinking of walking.  She’s happy and healthy and well-nourished, and I feel like it will make me a better mother and happier person to divest myself of pumping-related stress. I’d like to think that these reasons are good and that I won’t feel guilty, but I know that won’t happen.

A couple of my coworkers were joking today about how Dot is “definitely a first child,” and it made me rock back in my chair and hold my breath.  She’s not my first.  I hate it when people erase Teddy that way.  But they’re not entirely wrong; she’s my first living.  She’s the first I get to see grow, the first I can feed, the first I can nurture, the first I can warp for life.  I hope this is the right decision, and it feels like the right decision, but this parenting a living baby is new to me, and it might not be.

Wish me (and Dot and Bitey) luck.


  1. Yay, a tooth. But I have those same twinges of sadness every time Angus reaches a new milestone his sister never will. He’s just started walking and it feels so huge and it is, yet walking is something Hope never even got close to, given she never even drew breath at birth. And this time has gone so fast with him. He was born then boom, he’s walking! It is just still so incomprehensible to me that she was here, she’s gone and she’s never coming back and amongst many other things, will never take her first steps.
    We’re still feeding here, but mostly because I’m not back at work so I have never had to worry about pumping. I love it, he loves and it is very easy and convenient. I have no words of advise on weaning (though I wish I did, as I should have weaned my FIRST baby of course) but I wish you luck with it all. Let me know how you go, as I sense the end isn’t far away for us.

  2. ah, I am so with you on the emotions in this post. These should be our slightly neglected second kids…

    Bea has teeth already, at 8 mos. And she has gotten me afew times – it doesn’t hurt *that* much so don’t worry. But it sure startles you!

    Are you planning to continue nursing at home in the evenings and night? Dot might decide to add a night nursing herself… I hope you can continue that as long as you like and that dropping a pumping doesn’t affect that – it is such a special time.

    And kudos to you for keeping up the pumping so long! I don’t think that I could have done it – Bea even visits me at my parttime job on Saturdays so that I don’t have to pump (well, plus little miss refused the bottle)

    I also think the holidays are starting to get to me – that Serenity would be a fun age for opening presents this year….

    this parenting after a db sure is tough!

  3. Congratulations to Dot on Bitey! Long may that may be a misnomer!

    You’ve described it so well. Sometimes I feel as though it will pull me in half, that longing to see her grow up and the pain of seeing her change as her sister never will.

    I’m sure all breast pumps have a similar character you know! They are certainly all knuckle whacking types. And yes, pumping whilst managing to do anything definitely constitutes skilz in my book.

    I hope you can have confidence that your reasons are good, that you have done a fantastic job for Dot, that can deserve a big guilt-free pat on the back and that you can wave a cheery Auf Wiedersehn to Gertrude.

    I also get the whole ‘she’s such a first child’ thing, it irritates me beyond all reason. Because she isn’t and it seems like such a ‘pigeon hole’y type thing to say about someone so small.

    I think we all probably do our fair share of warping and muddle along as best as we can. But I think that the love makes it up for it. I hope so. C xo

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